Can China Destroy Our Power Grid?
If you think the tawdry bromance between President Trump and Putin is a never ending soap opera, then you may not be giving much consideration to some of the things that may come with an escalating trade war with China. While mainstream media releases limited stories about how China engages in currency manipulation, they are saying even less about the potential for how China can shut down our power grid.
Nevertheless, Chinese aggression in this area aided by past sales of super computers and other equipment by former President Clinton is something we must all think very carefully about and be prepared for.
The Chinese Outlook and the Communist “Great Leap Forward”
More than a few Western minded people have claimed that the Asian mind is very difficult to predict. Others trying to figure out what China will do next simply measure their recent past by Western morals and values in order to develop stereotypes that may or may not serve as accurate predictors of what China’s leaders and people will do. Rather than take these two flawed approaches, it may be better to look at China through the lens of Chinese history and the views of the people.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
- China has always had a robust population and has always had to do what they could to maximize vital resources such as food. Historically, this is a nation that has always had at least some communistic or socialist tendencies simply because there was no other way to ensure a baseline of survival for the masses.
- In terms of language, the very symbols used to depict the name of the Chinese nation translate to “middle country”. To them, this means their nation is at the center of the universe, it is the best and the most favored. As such, the people saw no need to conquer other lands or involve themselves to any degree in the affairs of other people and nation. Essentially, if you left China alone, then China would leave you alone.
- Large populations and the need to feed so many people also meant that a great deal of emphasis was placed on the land and getting the most from it. While communism wasn’t especially difficult for many people to embrace, the idea of leaping into technology and competing with the rest of the world was not as easily accepted by the masses during the 1950’s after the communist revolution occurred.
- Even though China may tout its “5 Year Plans” and the “Great Leap Forward” as successful, the fact of the matter is millions of people died from starvation and other horrors as the people shifted their methods of food production from land owner to government owned operations. If nothing else, the loss of life should be a serious warning to anyone that believes there is much to be gained by commercialization, monopolies, and “progressive” movements away from individual empowerment in favor of government approved group think.
- As older generations die off, there is still a great appreciation for the history and pride of the Chinese nation, however the increasing focus on technology and international competition are likely to be at direct odds with the goals of communism and maintaining a basic standard of life. Unfortunately, the lack of gun rights among the masses, the ruthless suppression of free speech, and a propaganda filled media translates to hidden internal pressures that make assessing China more difficult than expected. While the Chinese government may think it has a right to commit genocide in Tibet and to tell Buddha where he can and can’t reincarnate, this nation does not know everything, nor can it control everything.
- Insofar as the question of whether or not China will move to destroy our power grid, a great deal depends on the political wrangling going on deep within the Chinese government. Different groups and generations still have specific outlooks, and the power plays are likely to be every bit, if not more dizzying than goes going on in every other national capital around the world. At the end of the day, it is more important to assess the technology and tools available to achieve these goals rather than try to arrive at an answer of what China will and won’t do. Perhaps we can leave it at anyone backed into a corner will come out fighting, and if you disturb even the most passive person enough, they will eventually respond with some kind of aggression. They key is to know which battles are worth fighting and figuring out how to secure as many resources as possible so that an attack does as little damage as possible.
How Did China Get So Powerful Technologically?
After the communist overthrow of China, its leaders were closely aligned with Russia. This, in turn, led to information being exchanged on nuclear development, however most believe that Moscow and Beijing parted ways before China obtained viable plans for building nuclear bombs. Today, many believe that China came up with its own nuclear bomb technology. Even though this nation is a signatory of the non-proliferation treaty and supports testing bans on nuclear weapons, many believe it is China that supplied Pakistan with the information required to build a nuclear bomb. In addition, there is a great deal of speculation about just how large China’s nuclear arsenal is and its capacity.
Insofar as other technology and financial development, there is no question that the United States created this monster as well as the threats we all face as a result of these bad trade and diplomatic agreements.
To begin, when Nixon “normalized” trade with China, it soon led to a massive exodus of factories from the United States into China. As our factories moved overseas, so did the plans for making cars, computers, household appliances, and many other things.
At this point in time, the United States is so reliant on China for processing we have the following problems:
- The United States imports all antibiotics and many other pharmaceutical drugs from China. There are serious questions at this time about the purity of the drugs and the standards under which they are being manufactured. This information is in direct contradiction to statements by the FDA that all drugs are rigorously tested. It is unclear at this time if allopathic drugs are just as bad as herbs in terms of delivering accurate dosages.
- The United States is increasingly relying on China for food processing. While you may recall the pet food scandals, you may not realize that chicken, apples, and many other foods are sent to China for processing and then returned to the United States for sale. The cost may be lower, however time and again it has also been proven that reduced safety and inspection standards in Chinese factories leads to dangerous products.
- Even as the number of landfills increases beyond belief, the United States is relatively unable to process recyclable goods. Since China is no longer accepting many of our plastics and other goods[vi], it has led to billions of extra tons of garbage going into landfills instead of being turned into useful products. Perhaps if we had paid more attention to recycling in this country and using trash for fuel, we would not have all these problems, let alone have to deal with all the financial and political clout that China has gained on the trash business.
After Nixon began opening the doors to trade with China, successive US presidents followed suit. During that time, the exodus of factory jobs bled from the United States as if our nation’s throat had been cut and the corpse hung upside down to drain even faster. By the time President Clinton took office, the Tienanmen Square massacre had come and gone along with a number of other squabbles that the general public didn’t even think about as they wore garments made in Chinese sweat factories, consumed food from plates and utensils “Made in China”, or watched televisions with parts from the same country.
Given the history of increasing trade with China and the export of jobs and technology overseas, relatively few experts raised an eyebrow when Clinton sold supercomputers and missile technology to China.
Without a question, if there was one event in the course of our relations with China that made us all vulnerable to an EMP attack, and worse, it was the sale of these two items.
The supercomputers can allow China, or any other nation using them (or improving on their technology) to crack our encryptions and hack into, modify, or destroy all kinds of sensitive information and devices. They can use these supercomputers to develop chips for phones and other devices to the point where some remote person in China monitoring these devices may know more about our homes and goings on than we do. Perhaps even more frightening, the way apps and websites deliver “specialized” or “personalized” advertisements also means it is just as possible to deliver subliminal signals that can manipulate us and our behavior in endless ways.
By the time you factor in the improvements in sound technologies and development of visual spectrum patterns, the potential for the creation of chaos is truly endless.
Nuclear Bombs and EMP Explosions
Now that you have some framework for seeing how China became capable of taking down our grid, and a little about the possible mindset of their leaders, it is time to look at some possible ways for them to take down the grid. While all of these methods are readily achievable, I feel some are more likely to be used than others based on a range of factors.
As a case in point, there is little, if any doubt that China can deploy nuclear bombs from its arsenal to generate an EMP. Perhaps they will even use the missile technology supplied by the Clinton administration. Even though with this one single shot that would be highly effective, I don’t think China will go this road unless they are provoked in kind. By this, I mean they would have to feel sufficiently threatened by our nuclear arsenal. Some situations that might lead to this problem include escalation in tensions over contested islands, an attack on North Korea or more silent allies such as Pakistan, other actions that directly cause the Chinese military to lose face. At this point, I don’t think China would launch an EMP attack to take down our grid over trade disputes or economic factors. Rather, they would employ other means that suit a financial kind of warfare.
Massive Cyber Attacks
Massive cyber attacks coming from any nation are inherently risky, especially if they are unprovoked. The inability to deny accountability can disrupt trade with mutual allies, as well as cause a host of other problems that China’s government isn’t likely to want. From that perspective, while Clinton’s administration most certainly gave China the tools to achieve massive cyber attacks of a degree to take down our grid, I don’t think the Chinese government will take this path; simply because they have too much to lose. Once again, it would take provocation in kind. While they may or may not be concerned about the consensus of the world body, the post “Great Leap Forward” ideologies suggest they want to compete and be the greatest; and that includes a positive world image. This is not likely to happen if they behave like noxious bullies; so they would go for something more subtle.
Hacker Games and Small Scale Cyber Attacks
Of all the methods China can use to take down our grid, this one seems both feasible and likely.
First, the increasing developments in computer technology make it fairly easy for members of their computer industrial sector to create all kinds of random hacks. Not only is the Chinese government free of the expense associated with these kinds of projects, they can also completely deny accountability. This, in turn enables them to save face with the world body even as their “citizens” wage war on the US power grid and other resources. Given the Chinese government’s control over the media and the way it can steer portrayal of foreign nations, it is entirely probably that “lone actors” will do the dirty work of the Chinese government.
As we have seen, historically, China knows the value of using small things or resources in combination with each other. For example, their military is known for simply overrunning forces with superior arms. In this context, they know that even small attacks on the power grid at the right time can cost millions of dollars per incident; and billions over time. Once a transformer blows or something else happens to a power station, you cannot get those resources back, nor can you get back the devices at the consumer level that are damaged by uneven power inputs and disruptions. As the cost adds up and consumer frustration mounts, even bigger problems develop that regulation cannot fix; including health and productivity losses.
Today, many people fail to realize that more illegal immigrants come from Asia than South America. At the same time, there are many people from China here on work, student, and other visas. Even though there are no specific indicators at this time, the fact remains people from China are at the forefront of our IT and related industrial sectors. This, in turn, means that these skilled workers can easily take down our power grid right from inside the United States.
On the surface, the odds seem low because we do not think much in this country about how brainwashing and brainwash triggers work. When people go to school in China, on the other hand, they are measured carefully across many different metrics. As with any other highly regulated country, you can rest assured that all kinds of brainwashing mechanisms are used to ensure the people are loyal to the government. There is simply no telling what kind of national pride these visitors have in their nation, or if hidden flags have been hidden within their psyche.
If these kinds of events do occur, all we will see on our news as that a foreign Chinese citizen on some kind of visa had a mental breakdown, identified with a terror group, or something else that would easily cover up another factor such as brainwashing. Never forget in the arena of sabotage and this kind of damage, there are many methods that we as general citizens have no clue about, yet we may suspect at some level. In my opinion, the way content can be customized to deliver to one person versus another even in the same home speaks volumes about what can be accomplished insofar as manipulating people to carry out specific acts. In this case, the acts would involve getting into locations where small to medium sized damage can be done to our power grid and transmission lines.
A Deadly Increased Dependence on Electricity for Transportation
Sometimes it seems like it is human nature to look for an external “enemy” even as we create our own problems and demise. The sad fact is all China really has to do is sit back and wait for us to destroy our own power grid by overloading it.
Even as I write this, the commercial power grid is actually over loaded and constantly dealing with outdated equipment. At the same time, the demand for electricity is growing exponentially.
As a case in point, have a look at the increasing number of “plug in” motor vehicles. Even though they are supposed to be the key to weaning this country off fossil fuel, the sheer number of cars in the United States means that the electric grid must produce double, triple, or even more output than it is at this time. If we cannot keep households supplied with electricity during hot weather or other situations, how can the grid supply enough power to meet a constant need created by larger numbers of electric vehicles?
All China has to do with this situation is pioneer electric vehicles and sell them in high volumes here in the United States. At some point, possibly sooner than later, these vehicles will overwhelm the power grid and effectively take it down. Even if we build hundreds of new power generating stations, it will cost billions of dollars to upgrade the system and transmission lines. All of this will translate to higher commercial electricity bills even as quality diminishes.
Traps Set In the Commercial Green Power Revolution
There is no question that solar panels and solar powered devices can be very useful in a time of need. On the other side of the equation, the materials used for these panels often includes rare earth minerals and other items that are rarely produced and refined in the United States. As with recycling our own plastic and processing food, China supplies most, if not all of the rare earth minerals we depend on. Some mistakenly believe that China cannot take down our power grid by refusing to sell us rare earth minerals. This thinking is seriously and dangerously flawed for the following reasons:
- Some claim that China already tried to do harm to our nation by stopping trade in rare Earth minerals in 2010. Since these efforts failed, supposedly they will never succeed if they try again. Eight years is a lot of time, especially when those eight years were filled with government programs and other sponsorships to increase our reliance on commercial “Green Power”, and by extension, those rare earth minerals. It remains my contention that solar panels do not last very long, nor do many other items made from rare earth minerals. Since most items from China cannot be repaired, once this equipment is gone, we will have a very serious problem on our hands if it cannot be replaced.
- As the Obama administration encouraged and fostered the increased reliance on “renewable fuels”, a great deal of effort also went into integrating these fuels into the power grid. For example, new transmission lines had to be built as well as all kinds of other equipment spliced into the existing system. Each of these points represents a place where a loss of equipment can overload, not just the local grid, but other elements that must take the load from the area with problems. While it is estimated that only 10% of the power grid will have “cascading disruption” problems, there is very little detail on how the “green power” generating systems impact the problem. In essence, if China supplied the equipment for the “green power”, it is entirely possible they can hack into these seemingly small installations and wreak havoc.
What About Using the North Korean Puppet?
No discussion on China and its potential for destroying our power grid would be complete without taking North Korea into consideration. Essentially, there is still something of a “turf war” between China and Russia insofar as which country gets to use North Korea as the “aggressive dummy out front”. While the Trump administration has worked very hard to offer North Korea a path to independence from this situation, there is still much work to be done insofar as understanding how North Korea and China impact each other.
While I don’t think China would directly launch an EMP attack on the United States, I do think they could be successful in encouraging North Korea to do this task for them. Once again, China would enjoy the ability to deny responsibility while gaining the advantage of a very fast attack that would have catastrophic results. Since it would be another country attacking the United States instead of China, they may also lower the bar for “reasons” to attack. In this case, it is possible that truly effective sanctions and an increased negative world view might be enough to push China to use North Korea.
Of course, we could hope that North Korea would have more interest in rejoining with South Korea and embracing what our western world has to offer.
Potential Timing and Stages
Once you believe that there is a creditable risk from a certain nation or group of people, the next step is to try and look for predictors of an imminent or escalating threat.
When it comes to China, we already know the following:
- They can, have done, and will continue to use economic pressure. It is highly likely that they will use currency manipulation, cutting off valuable resources, and throwing our nation into a tailspin insofar as denial of service in other areas. There are probably dozens to thousands of places where they could easily disrupt our power grid or destroy it through economic means alone. We might not hear about it or recognize the problem at the public level, however when the lights go out, it will be all too obvious.
- They can and will look to use other nations as puppets. Aside from North Korea, there is also the potential for using Pakistan, India, and several smaller Asiatic nations to place various kinds of pressure on our power grid and related infrastructures.
- As I mentioned previously, it is likely that China will not act aggressively unless their plans are being disrupted. If there is a secret plan underway to reduce the global power of the United States via destruction of the power grid, they will not show their hands unless something disrupts those plans. Keep a close eye on trade deals and also news coming out of China with a negative slant towards the United States. One thing is for certain, if China does recognize an advantage or capacity to exploit certain weaknesses, they will pounce much as a cat would when a mouse is just about to escape its clutches.
Steps You Can and Must Take to Secure Home Based Power Generation
Even among preppers, there are many that hope the government will somehow stop China and many others from interfering with our way of life. In this case, many hope that the US government has the resources and capacity to ensure the power grid remains functional and capable of producing enough electricity for our needs. Sadly, the inability to keep the lights on during hurricanes, high temperatures, and even when vehicles hit power poles should tell us that the government is not likely to be able to prevent a catastrophic power disruption. At most, the government will maintain its own power resources and leave the rest of us to get assistance in FEMA camps and other locations that may or may not be able to meet the needs of the masses.
If these options are not palatable, then you can and must begin taking steps so that you can generate and store power in sufficient quantities on your own.
Here are some important steps you need to take:
- Find out what the local, county, and state laws are in your area surrounding home based power generation and storage. If you find that it is not legal, or is heavily regulated, find out which politicians are unwilling to support the removal of those legal obstacles. Make it your business to rally everyone in the district to vote them out. In a situation where elections are not soon enough to suit your needs, move to have incumbent politicians recalled over this matter. Never hesitate to find out how much dependence their offices are on the local grid. If you find that they are better off than the people, make this a central issue. This includes recalling officials that have voted against off-gridding, and especially those that have made, or support laws that force people to be hooked up to municipal power and utility sources.
- In a situation where permits and regulations are reasonable (such as requesting that your equipment is checked out by a licensed electrician and certified safe), then make it your business to secure the proper permits.
- Each week, do something in your house to cut reliance on electricity. Since heating and cooling both tend to use a lot of electricity, do what you can in these areas first. For example, look to blackout curtains, and other passive heating and cooling methods to save electricity.
- When it comes to generating electricity, look for methods that do not rely on rare earth elements or other materials that are hard to obtain. Focus, instead on using heat based intermediaries such as steam, or even ways to turn plumbing drains into mini-water wheels. Be creative when it comes to looking for places where you can place power generating coils.
- Focus on power storage methods that do not rely on complex inverters or other equipment that involves delicate technologies. While a Tesla battery may seem like a good idea, it can also be ruined easily. On the other hand, earth batteries, and even older style acid car batteries may be more suitable for smaller applications. Always look for storage options that you can replace and maintain easily as opposed to ones that will require complex servicing or maintenance.
- Do not hesitate to work with small power generation based systems. Even if you can only power one appliance, it is better than none. Eventually, you will achieve complete energy independence with no one being the wiser.
- Try to eliminate as many needs for electricity as possible. Instead of buying foods that require refrigeration, try growing sufficient fresh foods that can be harvested as needed. If you buy fresh meat or other items that would normally be frozen, try smoking and drying them instead. The more you learn about old methods for storing foods, the sooner you will realize that this is one place where you can gain energy independence with less effort than expected. In fact, this is the one area where you could even say that marketing ploys have created the worst brainwashing on the masses. Once you build your first solar dehydrator, solar cooker, and other devices, you will soon realize that energy independence even in an apartment building or other highly regulated area is entirely possible.
Over the years, more than a few people in the prepper community have claimed that they can live just fine without electricity.
Realistically speaking, however, the loss of electricity will be more than an inconvenience for most of us. If you do not have alternative power sources available and plenty of practice using them, now is a good time to start working on these tasks. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if China winds up destroying our power grid, or something else entirely. Being without power can put us all in a deadly situation that is best avoided by taking steps now to reduce reliance on commercial power while expanding your capacity to generate and store electricity on your own.